Quick Comments on Rahul Roushan’s “Dummy’s guide to Net Neutrality”

Rahul Roushan’s A Dummy’s guide to Net Neutrality does raise some understandable concerns. Though I’ve a fundamental issue with the article..i,e on spectrum being public property, since it needs considerable explanation, we’ll address it in another post later. But here’s a quick take to address those concerns

“If you don’t want to pay a higher toll tax to visit your friend, you can pay normal toll tax but the toll employee will deflate your tyres a little so that your car starts running slow.”

Is it not like your courier guy deliberately delaying your post? Then why didn’t we demand courier neutrality?
Two things:
The courier guy knows that — in a competitive market —prompt & transparent service is what makes his business successful.

But importantly, if the courier guy has promised that he will deliver the post in 2 days, and if he fails to do so, you can always file a case against contract violation.

The problem is, instead of insisting on a contract, we are demanding a legislation. In other words, we are asking for sameness. This will kill all innovative ways of servicing customers.

“The DND asks you to pay higher toll if you are going to meet a friend, but normal toll if you are going to a shopping mall. They know you love your friend more than shopping, so they want to introduce this pricing scheme.”

Interestingly, the same telcos whom we now find hard to trust, have been asking us what we value more and offering that at cheaper rates. They tell you that “har ek friend zarrori hota hai”, and lets you speak to your friends/family at cheaper rates. Are we saying we should let go of all this discriminative pricing and there is a need for call neutrality? For businesses, goodwill is an asset that they want to nurture. While any irrational discrimination will dent their goodwill and put them out of business in no time, a law will hinder all types of discrimination, denying choice for consumers

“ISPs on their part use this analogy to claim that traffic to something like a WhatsApp or YouTube is like four-axle truck so they should be allowed to charge more. But this is a wrong analogy. Yes, WhatsApp or YouTube indeed guzzle a lot of data, but that meansmost of the cars are going to the same shopping mall; it doesn’t make every car a truck!”

Imagine on an average 20 cars go to each shopping mall on one road and the road was able to accommodate them all well. Over a period of time, a particular mall started attracting 100 cars while others remained the same. This started causing congestion. In effect this means..the mentioned mall is consuming more of the road. So it is perfectly rational for the road owner to tax it accordingly. He can do it in two ways…a) impose an additional toll on each vehicle going to that mall or b) he can strike a deal with the shopping mall owner to widen the road. But to distribute costs on everyone even when we know the source of the problem is a classic socialist approach. Though it may seem like taxing the car owner, he is effectively taxing the business for consuming more road.

Airtel Zero is nothing but a toll free phone connection my business gets if I pay for it. Are we saying that me having a toll free number hinder the growth of upcoming businesses?

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